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Okefenokee Plains

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About the Okefenokee Plains

The Okefenokee Plains are a flat, poorly-drained region mostly located in southern Georgia but extending significantly into Florida as well; it can be seen as the slightly drier margins of Okefenokee Swamp to the east.

This region consists of flat plains and low terraces of marine origin, interspersed with numerous small lakes and ponds, most surrounded by swampy ground. Lakes here tend to be highly acidic, dark in color, and low in minerals. The area is underlain by sand and gravel, but surface soils here are mostly poorly-drained, with clayey sands, phosphatic deposits, and peaty or organic muck soils. Although these soils are poorly suited for most Western agriculture, in many places they are suitable for growing berries.

The region has a humid subtropical climate with considerable seasonality of precipitation: summer has over twice the rainfall of spring and fall, and winters are slightly wetter. Winters are cool, and frosts possible but temperatures usually stay above freezing, and snowfall is rare.

Originally this area was mostly covered in southern mixed forest, with some forested wetlands.

Nowadays, this region has mostly been replaced by pine forests and pine plantations, with some areas of forested wetlands remaining. There is little agriculture, mostly berry production, especially blueberries. Some areas here are utilized for hunting, and some of the lakes are stocked for sport fishing. In the far southern end of this region, there is a massive phosphate mining operation, currently owned by Nutrien corporation. There is some protected land here, most notably Cypress Creek Wildlife Management Area and Osceola National Forest in Florida. Also, located within the phosphate mining area are two preserves, Potashcorp Wildlife Management Area and Occidental Wildlife Management Area. There is little protected land on Georgia's side of the border. This area is sparsely populated and losing population; the largest town is Homerville, GA, with under 3,000 people, and there are a few smaller towns.

The east portion of this area mostly surrounds Okefenokee Swamp, an area that is consistently lower and wetter. Where it does not, this region borders the Sea Island Flatwoods to the east and south, a region that is better-drained and has slightly more topographic variability. To the north, this region is bordered by the also-better-drained Bacon Terraces in the east, and the hillier Atlantic Southern Loam Plains in the west. To the west, most of this region is bordered by the hillier Tifton Upland, except in the south where it is bordered to the southwest by the Tallahasee Hills/Valdosta Limesink. Excepting Okefenokee Swamp, all of these regions have a much higher density of agriculture and are more populous.